So after 2 months of lying on the big (holey) mattress on the narrower bed base, D finally admitted defeat.  We started looking for beds so that she could sleep without feeling like she may tumble out of bed every time she turned around.  Also the added risk of lockjaw, although I imagine titillating at first, now probably just makes her nervous.  Suddenly, it was:

“I really need a new bed, I mean the mattress I have is torn, and the spring is loose, not to mention the fact the base is too small…”

I refrained from saying I TRIED TO WARN YOU BUT YOU WOULDN’T LISTEN. (I did think it very loudly though)

The search for a bed started as with everything – on the internet.  We established how much space she had in the room, and how much room she would have left if she got a small double rather than a single.  She chose to get a small double.

After that it was all about the mattress.  She looked at various options, and thought that she would like a memory foam one.  I have a tempur mattress which rocks.  I mean it is a good night’s sleep whichever way you look at it, I had never been able to lie on my back before and now – well let’s just say, I love my bed.  In fact I actually say that aloud every night before sleep as I snuggle down and my mattress moulds itself to my body making me feel warm and supported.

Tempur mattresses however are really expensive.  I bought mine about 6 years ago, and I thought it cost the earth even though it was half price in the sale.  D looked at Tempur or memory foam mattresses and decided that it was not within her budget.  Next options were the budget memory foam mattresses.  These are coil sprung mattresses with 2 cms of memory foam on top.  They are considerably cheaper than memory foam mattresses, and proportionately less comfortable.  We went to John Lewis and tried out various mattress options.  We lay down on all the beds in the showroom, and she couldn’t decide.  Her favourite one was an orthopaedic mattress.

“Great” I said, “this comes in the size you want, and you can have it delivered within the week.”

“But it’s called the ‘Ortho 1200’” she said plaintively.

“So?  You liked it and found it the most comfortable out of all the mattresses we lay on.  Seriously, I am starting to understand what hookers feel like going from bed to bed like this.  If you don’t like the name, start calling yours Bernard or Princess Twinkle-pants when you get it home.”

“But orthopaedic mattresses are for old people with aches and pains…. I don’t want an old person’s mattress.”

“It isn’t an old person mattress, it is a mattress with features that help reduce/prevent back injuries but also that could be comfortable to sleep on.  What is the problem?”

“Orthopaedic is an old person word.”

“You make it sound like you are snatching the mattress from under an old person. Orthopaedic is not an old person word.  The reason old people use orthopaedic mattresses is because they are mature enough to recognise a back problem when they experience it and do something about it.”

“But Mum and Dad have an orthopaedic mattress…”

The conversation went on, with the John Lewis man looking at us in bemusement.  I turned to him and told him that we would need a little more time to think about it and we left the shop.

About 10 days later, D got a call from her friend A.  She had a mattress she needed to store and wanted to know if we had any ideas.  D asked me.  I asked her what size is the mattress, maybe you could take it off her hands, or buy it from her or whatever.

“Oh yes,” she said,” I’ll ask her to measure it.”

It was a fit.  Now D could put off making this big decision about the mattress by borrowing A’s.  She ordered her bed base from John Lewis immediately.  We also saw that they do a bed recycling service and collect your old bed when they bring the new one.  It was an extra £25, but money well spent if it meant avoiding a call to the council etc. etc. 

We arranged a date for the bed to be delivered, and the slot they gave us was 2pm to 9pm.  I waited in.  At about 5pm, the bell rang.

“John Lewis” said the guy over the intercom.

“Oh hi, come on up.” I said.

We had mentioned when ordering that the flat was on the 7th floor.  I was hoping the bed fit into the lift, otherwise I was going to have to provide first aid or oxygen when they got up here.

Five minutes later there’s a knock at the apartment door and a man who was a dead ringer for Heston Blumenthal – glasses and everything- is at the door.  Crikey, I thought, I guess times are tough in the world of molecular gastronomy, he is moonlighting as a John Lewis delivery man to keep himself in dry ice and sous-vides.

What he didn’t have was Heston’s cheeriness.  He was dressed as though he was off to explore the Antarctic, sweating profusely and had a face like thunder.

“Oh, you made it,” I said, smiling. “Did it fit in the lift? I was worried you were going to have to cart it up the stairs.”

“John Lewis has a one floor policy.” He said, stony-faced. “If it hadn’t have fit in the lift, you wouldn’t be getting your bed today.”

Inside, I was thinking uncharitable thoughts about how John Lewis should have made this clearer on their website, especially since we had told them the apartment was on the seventh floor.  My logical brain was telling me that this was not Heston’s fault, so I just gritted my teeth and answered.

“OK, well good thing it fit then! You’re not alone are you, because I think we have to take the bed out of the flat first before you bring this one in.”

“My colleague is bringing up the other half of the bed.  But we aren’t due to collect any beds today, just deliver one.”

“Er, no that’s not right,” I said, panicking at the thought of what I was going to do with the bed. “I paid an extra £25 for your bed recycling service, and if you don’t take the old bed, you’re just going to have to take the new bed back with you and come back another day. There isn’t any extra space in here.”

“It’s not on our list.” he said.

Just then, his colleague turned up.  He was as smiley as Heston was grumpy.  He looked a lot like Duncan Preston (Stan from Dinnerladies) and had the same sort of happy smile.

“Lady says we’re supposed to take the bed already in there.” Heston tells him. “But it’s not in our paperwork”

“I have paid for the service” I said nervously, thinking about the chain of events that would unfold if they didn’t in fact take the bed.

“Ok, Madam, we’ll just take it then, if they haven’t charged you for it, they will give you a call.”

Relief washed over me.  “Thank you so much,” I said.  “Well, come and have a look at the room. As you will see, there is no room for knocking about in!”

They came into D’s room, and looked dubiously at the space.

“The new bed won’t fit in here, and I’m not so sure the old bed and mattress will fit in the lift.  If it doesn’t, it’s not leaving with us…” huffed Heston.

I was thinking screw you Heston, what are you? The voice of doom? Also what did you think, that we didn’t plan for the size of the bed? We are intelligent women, not silly little girls who thought oooh a big bed! How exciting! You miserable glass-half-empty son of a…

What I said was: “It definitely fits, we measured the space.  Also the bed base and the mattress came up in the lift not three months ago and I’m pretty sure they haven’t grown since then.”

Heston started muttering.  Over him, Stan said cheerfully.

“Ok then, let’s get started shall we?!”

They started taking the stuff out of the room.  Heston was sweating so much that I thought he may die.  I was concerned, but he’s used to heat what with working in the kitchen all day…  He could have saved himself a lot of bother if he had removed a layer of clothing or six. Or at least his all-weather high visibility parka made of whale blubber or whatever they make those things out of.

The bed left, and the other one came in.  I popped my head out of the front door to make sure they weren’t blocking the corridor. When I looked, I paused, my jaw literally dropping.  They had taken the mattress out and put it diagonally across the corridor thus blocking any pathway through it, but the most unbelievable part was that they had stood the bed base up and practically aligned it with my neighbour opposite’s front door.  This would mean that had my neighbour opened her front door she would have thought she had either been sealed into her apartment, or that she was about to enter Narnia.  For crying aloud I muttered as I moved all the stuff around, aggravating my back.  It’s like they do it on purpose.  I mean, her front door is not disguised.  It isn’t one of those discreet sliding doors that are designed to look like a wall so that people don’t know that you need to go through doors to get to the next room. It is a wooden front door, exactly the same as mine with a number on it.  And Heston and Stan went outside with a bed base – about the same size as the front door – and thought, let’s slot it into that door frame, and block the corridor.  Sounds like a plan.

Anyway, back in D’s bedroom, they are trying to unwrap the bed bases and fix them together.  I tried to watch the process because we might be moving soon, and it would be useful to know.  At this point Heston’s glasses are sliding down his face and his hands are slipping off the plastic covering he is sweating so much. His fluorescent yellow outerwear remained zipped up to his chin, whereas Stan was now sporting a polo shirt, his sweater on the floor by the door.   I left them to it.  Hopefully the movers will have seen John Lewis bed bases before, and the nanny in me was ready to rip the jacket off of Heston and make him sit down with a drink of water and a stern lecture about overheating.

Finally, the bed base was in place and Heston and Stan were out in the corridor no doubt wondering how to block the stairwell while they waited for the lift.  Phew, taking delivery of stuff is hard work.

Next came the mattress.  A lives in Muswell Hill.  It’s a long and convoluted story, but the long and the short of it is that this journey involved me taking D’s small car to my sister K’s house to pick up young Thony who was staying with her and who had (extremely generously) offered to help us move the mattress;  wait there for D to arrive from work, and then make our way to my aunt’s house where my larger car now resides, switch vehicles and drive to Muswell Hill to collect the mattress.   I know, I know, there are easier ways to skin a cat, but this was the plan.  Initially, we had thought of taking my sister K’s car which has a roof rack, and slinging the mattress onto the roof but  God, or whomever you feel decides the weather, in His Infinite Wisdom had decided that this was the evening for torrential rain.

We make it to Muswell Hill, and back into the driveway which is made all the harder by the lack of visibility due to the rain, and A standing behind me to direct me, but actually in danger of being run over.  She could have used Heston’s jacket about then.

We make it upstairs to the flat, and the mattress is propped up against the wall.  It becomes immediately apparent that the mattress is not going to fit in my car in its current state.

“We need to fold it and tie it folded.” I said, “Do you have any rope, or anything to tie it with.”

“I am a girl,” said A, “I have a belt!”

I refrained from explaining to her that a belt that fit around her tiny waist would not also fit around a folded double mattress.  Thankfully, she found some rope.

“Listen D, I have also included a mattress topper because this is a firm, orthopaedic mattress and you might find it a bit hard.  If it is too hard even with the mattress topper, then I will give you another memory foam topper at the weekend.  Or you could put down some blankets….”

I froze.  I thought that maybe we had come all this way and the mattress was going to be a no go because A had utter the ‘o’ word.  Also, I thought, is this mattress made of cement?  No wonder it was going for free…

“I am sure it will be fine, A. Don’t worry.”

Phew, bullet dodged.

So we struggled downstairs with the mattress, folded it over and A started to attempt the most complicated and hilarious knot tying I have ever seen.  Our friend, Thony was super helpful and even managed not to laugh at A’s attempts to be a boy scout.  Eventually, we got the mattress out to the car in the rain, and pushed, shoved and heaved until the mattress was mostly in.  You’ll have to put the other seat down, said A.

“Yes, but then one of us will have to run alongside” I pointed out.

“Oh, yes, er – what will we do?”

Just then, a lady came out of the flat downstairs in her pyjamas.  I thought she was coming to complain about the noise.  We had been chatting and laughing and grunting as we pushed and pulled.

“Please don’t get me wrong, but I am just completely paranoid about these alliums.”  The three of us looked at her blankly.  She was pointing towards the ground.  I looked over to where she was pointing.  There were what looked like dead flowers and a white dragon/horse in the middle of them.  I wasn’t entirely sure what she was referring to the animal or the flowers.

“It’s just that I have 250 people coming at the weekend, and I am completely paranoid.  Those alliums are my babies and I just cannot bear it if anyone tramples or runs over them. Please be careful if you are bringing stuff in.”

“Er we are actually on our way out. “

“Oh, ok, great! Thank goodness.  Sorry it’s just I am completely paranoid about my alliums.  Thank you so much, no children will lose their souls overnight!” With that and a swish of her pyjamas, she disappeared back into her flat.

We were completely flummoxed.  We still hadn’t worked out if the alliums were the flowers or the animal, and now she was talking about children losing their souls.  We bade her goodnight, took a photo of the general area she had been pointing at to ask people about it later, and continued to try and fit the mattress into the car.

Thony came up with the solution.  He pushed down the other seat, got the mattress in, closed the boot and then forced the seat up again.  Then he got in and sat with his face smashed against the window of the car waiting for us to leave.

We drove back to Cricklewood, and I parked as close as possible so that the mattress wouldn’t get wet between the house and the car.  D and Thony took it into the building while I parked, and then D wedged herself into the lift with it.  I reached in and pressed the button for the floor and Thony ran upstairs taking the steps two at a time to help her as she reached the 7th floor by lift. Ah to be 19 and superfit again (I imagine.  I was never actually 19 and superfit.  I stopped cultivating superfitness aged about four and a half).  He made it upstairs before D, and they got the bed into the flat and onto her new bed base in no time.

It was all very simple really.  Three weeks of talking about changing beds, three hours of  lounging around in department stores,  three hours waiting for the delivery, 45 minutes of the Heston and Stan show, and four hours in the rain on a Tuesday evening trying not to kill the pyjama lady’s children.  That’s all it took. Piece of cake.

You’re probably wondering if the bed is comfy after all that.  Well,  although when you sit on it, it is as jarring to your spine as falling heavily onto a marble staircase, once you lie down and distribute your weight more evenly it is quite comfortable.  D hasn’t felt older since she got it, that’s the main thing.  And when people some to the flat and go for the Grand (2 minute) Tour, they never comment on the fact that her mattress looks a bit orthopaedic and ARE YOU ALRIGHT GRANDMA?  They simply point out that the bed is much too big.  What they haven’t understood, is that it isn’t the bed that’s too  big, it’s the room that’s too small.  And since we do not have the facility to make it bigger at the moment, D will continue to enter her room and freefall onto her bed.  Gently so as not to break any bones or get a concussion.  At least the risk of getting a tetanus infection has been eliminated.